Moving For A Living

Up in the air

“Up in the Air” the new Jason Reitman film is likely to be feted as one of the best of 2009 for a variety of reasons including great acting, directing and script writing.

It also is many different movies in one.

It is a comedy and it is a tragedy.

It is a movie that resonates with the times we live in but also alludes to things that are timeless

It will resonate if you are a frequent flier or a cubicle dweller.

Among the great lines in the movie is “moving is living”.

As someone who flies over one hundred times a year I would rephrase that as “moving for a living”.

Watching the movie I began to wonder why in this age of Webex, Halo telepresence, and video chat, that my colleagues, my management, and my own travel was not decreasing but was increasing?

I believe there are three trends driving increased travel and these are likely to accelerate.

First, globalization requires people to people contact to overcome cultural barriers and to initiate relationships.

Second, the rapid pace of change is upending existing industry structures and creating new competitors and opportunities. This require meeting new potential partners and going to conferences and many more industry meetings. For instance, five years ago Nikon would not have considered Apple and Nokia and Nintendo as competitors but today all three are in the imaging business. Similarly Electronic Arts now has to deal with Facebook and Apple and Zynga and not the usual suspects of three or four years ago. As the industry changes it is hard to compete by sitting in one place.

Third, as digital presence increases we live in a world of virtual abundance but physical scarcity. Thus, where and when you show up is a very important sign. It matters.

Up in the Air makes a point of this when a virtual way of replacing physical presence is found wanting.

But twenty years ago an ad from United which I saw often– since it was always on the my agency’s new business reel — made the point best.

Sadly, the company that made the ad for United was fired after working with them for more than thirty years.

One of the key reasons was because the Agency senior management rarely showed up at the Client.

Tomorrow I do flight number 129 this year.

Moving. For a living.
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One response to “Moving For A Living

  1. As a UAL Global Services/1K/Million Mile flier (and Delta Gold to boot, oh joy) I would agree with you and perhaps add a 4th trend that is culled from the first 3: Development of Trust. Trend 1: Globalization (and thus new cultural boundaries to overcome), Trend 2: Change (and thus new markets/marketplaces and expanded competitive sets with new angles on existing or developing businesses) and Trend 3: media/digital overload (which creates a thin layer of knowledge on top of a very closed and shrinking set of trusted sources) creates the ever growing need for face time, social time, connection over shared experiences, family, whatever the case may be to break through the facade created (or enhanced) by the other trends and thus the increased need to establish true trust which, despite all of the advances of technology, can only be created through face to face connections. So pack up the bberrys, the laptops and every other form of communication, they fit nicely underneath the seat in front of you (unless you have long legs like me).

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